I was planning to avoid writing the obligatory 2015 predictions post, but I just got back from participating in a panel at the Austin Social Media Breakfast where I was invited to do just that – predict what 2015 has in store for content marketing.
Predictions are 5% educated guess, and 95% divination (these figure are unverifiable), but here goes!
1. Brands Will Start to Take the “Brand As Media” Concept Seriously
So many content marketing luminaries have been exhorting brands to “think like a media company” that it’s gotten a little out of hand. From Brian Clark saying the key to business success is media, not marketing, to Gary Vaynerchuk declaring that every one of us is a media company, to WCG head of social strategy Michael Brito’s book Your Brand: The Next Media Company, the directives are clear: we must think and behave like a periodical, magazine or cable network.
The benefits to becoming a media company (in addition to whatever product or service you sell) are clear: media companies have a built-in audience of subscribers, giving them a direct pipe to potential customers without having to rent an audience from somebody else.
The Kapost 50 best content marketing brands of 2014 is a who’s who of brands that are already behaving like media companies. Companies like Red Bull, IBM, HubSpot, LinkedIn and Adobe have upped the ante, and 2015 will see many more brands rushing to catch up.
If the logic of sharing valuable content on a consistent schedule to build an audience didn’t convince brands, seeing their competitors will surely push them into action.
2. The Content Cascade Will Start to Take Hold
Brian Massey, the Conversion Scientist, introduced the term Content Cascade in his book the Customer Creation Equation. If you hold webinars as lead generation events, why not record your webinars and create a cascade of different pieces of content of varying lengths and formats for different channels?
Turning your webinars into YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, eBooks, blog posts, infographics and social media shares is classic content re-purposing.
But cascading your content can take many different forms. If you produce a YouTube show, strip the audio and turn it into a podcast as well. Or if you produce a regular podcast, you can turn it into a book, like Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute is doing with Content Inc.
Cascading your content helps you hit two very valuable birds (maybe flying hens?) at one time: it solves the problem of how to keep your content pipeline full, and it enables you to appeal to prospects who consume content differently, like readers, visual learners, or watchers.
Cascading content will coincide with the move to become a media company, as the cascade will help feed the media machine.
3. B2B Companies Will Start to Use B2C Content Tactics
B2B content marketing has historically been more tentative and conservative compared to their B2C content, with B2B marketers opting for the“thought leadership” white paper and dry blog post.
But I predict more B2B companies will start to mix it up a little bit. Humor will start to make an appearance, as humor-leader Tim Washer of Cisco shows in this hilarious keynote.
Also, sharing content through social networks traditionally considered B2C networks, like Facebook and Instagram, will become more common. Why? As Vaynerchuk said, you’ve got to market in the actual year we live in. B2B companies don’t sell to other companies, they sell to decision-makers who are actual human beings, and these human beings are on Facebook, Twitter, PInterest and Instagram.
4. Content Marketing Will Become a Key Tool for Entering International Markets
This year we’ll start to see more companies using content as a key tool to enter international markets.
Companies such as Lander from Argentina, and Softtek from Mexico, are using content as a key strategy for their U.S. marketing efforts. Boston-based firm HubSpot has also launched blogs in Spanish and German to increase their presence in those markets.
Companies will start to realize the media first approach is a better way to engage with consumers, learn about their needs, and establish brand awareness in global markets.
5. Personalization Will Finally Happen (Hopefully)
This has been a popular prediction this year, and I wanted to add my voice to the chorus. I’ve been hearing about the promise of mass website personalization since I worked at CMS vendor Vignette Corporation in the early 2000s.
But Vignette and its competitors were expensive enterprise tools, and were hopelessly complex.
The growth in the number of lower cost application vendors offering user-friendly content personalization tools, coupled with the current content glut, will drive more brands to adopt personalization out of sheer necessity. Only by delivering relevant content to the right people at the right time can brands cut through the content noise and get their message heard.
Let’s See If These Content Marketing Predictions Come True
Writing these predictions was fun, but it will be even more fun to see if they actually come true come December 31st.
Stay tuned for my end-of-year post when I review these predictions and try to remove the egg off my face.